Difference Between WINS and DNS (with Table)

Imagining a world without the internet would be a very difficult task today. It has become the backbone of our daily tasks. We all access different websites and webpages every single day. All devices connected to the internet have distinct IP addresses. 

IP addresses are very important to take care of when one talks about cybersecurity. They help in host identification, network identification and location addressing. WINS (Windows Internet Service) and DNS (Domain Name System) are two services that help in keeping track of the internet profiles of the host as well as your device.

WINS vs DNS

The difference between WINS and DNS is that WINS is platform-dependent while DNS is not. This means that WINS only works on devices that have the Windows platform installed but DNS can work on any platforms like Windows, Linux, Unix, etc. Windows Internet Service is the precursor of Domain Name Server, which means that it is less developed than its counterpart.

Comparison Table Between WINS and DNS

Parameters of ComparisonWINSDNS
Platform DependencyWINS is dependent on its platform.DNS is platform-independent.
IP Address SupportWINS supports dynamic IP addresses.DNS supports static IP addresses.
TranslationIt translates NetBIOS names to IP addresses.It translates host names to IP addresses.
Data ReproductionWINS can reproduce any data for modification.DNS cannot reproduce data but copies the entire database.
Application SupportIt does not support TCP/IP application services.It supports all TCP/IP application services.

What is WINS?

WINS stands for Windows Internet Service. It is Microsoft’s implementation of NetBIOS Name Service. It works as a name server that maps the host name to network addresses from all of the internet. It has two components; a server service and a TCP/IP client component. 

In other cases, a WINS proxy is used that is a client that acts on behalf of computers that have not been enabled with WINS. This allows people who do not have WINS devices to use the program too. On the downside, the WINS system poses a security risk which cannot be found in the DNS system.

The TCP/IP client component is used for managing the client’s registration of a device to a server along with the renewal of names and other queries. Windows Internet Service was invented before DNS but has not been discontinued by Microsoft. Older models of laptops and computers often use WINS instead of DNS. It can be seen in Windows NMS and Windows 2000 servers.

Windows Internet Service is mainly made for devices that have Windows-like laptops, PCs, etc. It registers devices with names up to 15 characters. WINS can only work in Windows and not on other platforms like Linux, Unix, Cisco, etc. It helps in keeping track of changing IP addresses.

What is DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. It is the name given to devices connected to the internet or a private network. It works in a similar manner to WINS but is more refined in its functioning. DNS is used to link a variety of information with the domain names. 

DNS was made in 1985, by modifying WINS. In addition to providing information, it is responsible for checking the technical functionality of the database service. Domain Name Server is very useful in storing various kinds of records like IP addresses, SMPT mail, name servers, fighting off spam mail and storing a real-time blackhole list. It can be considered as the phone book of the internet.

DNS is more secure than WINS but it does not mean that it has no flaws. Sometimes DNS data can leak from private servers. By doing so, it can be used to get past firewalls and gather private information or data.

DNS is mainly designed for servers and other network devices. It registers names up to 253 characters. Domain Name Server can work on various different platforms like Linux, Windows, Cisco, Unix, etc. It can only keep track of static IP addresses that do not change from hour to hour.

Main Differences Between WINS and DNS

  1. DNS is independent and does not need any platform, but it is not the same case with WINS.
  2. WINS supports dynamic IP addresses while DNS supports static.
  3. DNS can translate host names but WINS cannot. WINS, on the other hand, translates NetBIOS names.
  4. WINS does not copy the data like DNS to form a database but reproduces it for modification.
  5. The Domain Name Server supports TCP/IP application services, unlike Windows Internet Network Service.

Conclusion

Windows Internet Service and Domain Name System are used to establish connection from your device to the host server. The host name that appears on your device is in the form of IP addresses that are translated by WINS and DNS. The client can communicate with the server even if its location is anywhere in the world.

WINS and DNS use different methodologies to extract results from the given query. Domain Name Server uses the command ‘ping’ to fetch results while Windows Internet Service uses the command ‘net use’ for the same. Hence the results fetched over the different services will be similar but the method used to arrive there will be different.

WINS can work on dynamic IP addresses as the database for it is constantly being updated. The same cannot be said for DNS and it only works on static IP addresses. WINS database does not have to be updated manually, rather it always keeps itself updated. New additions to the database are being made every single day.

WINS and DNS have their pros and cons. But it depends on your requirements and your choice on which service to use for the same. WINS and DNS are both developed by Microsoft with slight changes.

References

  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/glj88&section=46
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-1-4302-0185-4_2.pdf
  3. http://www.hjp.at/doc/rfc/rfc1591.html